Niosomes and discomes for ocular delivery of naltrexone hydrochloride: Morphological, rheological, spreading properties and photo-protective effects

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Naltrexone hydrochloride (NTX) is a promising treatment for corneal disorders linked to diabetes mellitus (diabetic keratopathy). However, NTX has a major stability problem due to autoxidation, which is likely to hinder its formulation as eye drops for treatment of diabetic keratopathy. In this study, in-house developed NTX non-ionic surfactant vesicles (niosomes and discomes) were evaluated for their spreading, rheological properties and their ability to impede the inevitable autoxidation of NTX in aqueous solutions. The measured contact angles and spreading coefficients for niosomes reflected significantly (P < 0.05) better wetting and spreading abilities than the aqueous vehicle. The prepared niosomes were significantly more viscous (P < 0.05) than the aqueous solution. The lipid content, size and composition of niosomes are the main factors affecting the viscosity of niosomal dispersions. Exposure of NTX solution to artificial daylight illumination (10,000 lux) can produce extensive degradation of NTX due to oxidation. The prepared formulations were able to significantly (P < 0.05) protect the encapsulated NTX from the photo-induced oxidation compared with free NTX solutions. The investigated niosomes lend themselves as a potential ocular delivery modality for NTX.

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